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Is Cape Verde Safe?

Cape Verde is generally safe for travelers, with low crime rates and no major security threats. However, petty crimes like pickpocketing and bag snatching occur, so remain vigilant in crowded areas. The country is politically stable, but occasional protests can disrupt transportation. Natural disasters are rare, but be prepared for the hurricane season from August to October.

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Safety & Security

Cape Verde is generally considered a safe travel destination, with relatively low levels of crime and civil unrest. However, it's still important for travelers to exercise caution and be aware of potential risks.

  • Petty Crime: While violent crime is rare, petty crimes like pickpocketing and bag snatching can occur, especially in crowded areas or tourist hotspots. Remain vigilant and keep valuables secure.

  • Scams: Be wary of common scams targeting tourists, such as overcharging for goods or services, or being offered unsolicited tours or transportation.

  • Civil Unrest: Although infrequent, protests and demonstrations can occur, particularly in the capital city of Praia. Avoid large gatherings and monitor local news for updates.

  • Terrorism: The risk of terrorist attacks in Cape Verde is low, but travelers should remain vigilant and follow the advice of local authorities.

  • Disputes: Disputes or confrontations with locals should be avoided, as they can escalate quickly. Maintain a respectful and non-confrontational demeanor.

  • Robbery: While rare, armed robberies have occurred, particularly in isolated areas or at night. Avoid carrying large amounts of cash or valuables, and be cautious when withdrawing money from ATMs.

Overall, Cape Verde is a relatively safe destination, but travelers should exercise common sense precautions and be aware of their surroundings at all times.

Health & Medical

Cape Verde is generally considered a safe travel destination from a health perspective, but there are a few risks and precautions travelers should be aware of.

  • Vaccinations: Routine vaccines like measles, hepatitis A/B, and COVID-19 are recommended. Yellow fever vaccination is required for some travelers.

  • Insect-Borne Diseases: There is a risk of mosquito-borne diseases like dengue fever, Zika, and malaria, especially during the rainy season. Use insect repellent and cover up to prevent bites.

  • Food and Water Safety: Avoid tap water and only consume bottled or purified water. Eat well-cooked foods from reputable establishments to prevent foodborne illnesses.

  • Medical Facilities: Medical facilities in major cities are generally adequate for routine issues, but serious cases may require medical evacuation. Comprehensive travel insurance is advisable.

  • Air Pollution: Air quality can be poor in urban areas due to vehicle emissions and dust. Those with respiratory conditions should take precautions.

While not a major health risk destination, being prepared and taking basic precautions can help ensure a safe and enjoyable trip to Cape Verde.

Natural Disasters

Cape Verde is an archipelago located in the Atlantic Ocean off the western coast of Africa. While the islands are generally considered safe from major natural disasters, there are a few potential risks that travelers should be aware of.

  • Volcanic Activity: Cape Verde is a volcanic archipelago, with the last major eruption occurring in 1995 on the island of Fogo. While the risk of a volcanic eruption is relatively low, it cannot be completely ruled out.

  • Earthquakes: The islands are located in a seismically active region, and minor earthquakes are not uncommon. However, major earthquakes that could pose a significant risk to travelers are rare.

  • Tropical Cyclones: Cape Verde is situated in the Atlantic hurricane belt, and the islands can be affected by tropical storms and hurricanes, particularly during the hurricane season from June to November. While direct hits are infrequent, the islands can experience heavy rainfall, strong winds, and rough seas.

  • Flooding: Heavy rainfall during the rainy season (August to October) can lead to localized flooding, particularly in low-lying areas and urban centers. This can disrupt transportation and cause property damage.

  • Drought: Cape Verde is prone to periods of drought, which can impact water supplies and agricultural production. While not a direct threat to travelers, prolonged droughts can lead to water shortages and potential food scarcity.

It is advisable for travelers to monitor weather conditions, follow local advisories, and take necessary precautions during their visit to Cape Verde, especially during the hurricane season.


Cape Verde has a relatively well-developed transportation system, but travelers should exercise caution when using public transportation or driving on the islands.

  • Public Transportation: Buses and shared taxis (called "aluguers") are available on most islands, but their safety standards and reliability can vary. Exercise caution when using these services, especially at night or in remote areas.

  • Rental Cars: Renting a car is a popular option for exploring the islands, but road conditions can be poor, especially in rural areas. Driving at night is not recommended due to the lack of street lighting and the presence of pedestrians and animals on the roads.

  • Road Safety: Traffic laws are often disregarded, and aggressive driving is common. Pedestrians should exercise extreme caution when crossing streets, as drivers may not yield the right of way.

  • Taxis: Licensed taxis are generally safe, but it's advisable to use reputable companies recommended by your hotel or travel agency. Negotiate the fare before entering the taxi.

  • Ferries: Inter-island ferries are a common mode of transportation, but safety standards may not meet international norms. Check the condition of the vessel and the availability of life jackets before boarding.

Cultural Norms

Cape Verde is an archipelago nation with a rich cultural heritage influenced by its African, Portuguese, and Mediterranean roots. As a traveler, it's essential to respect the local customs and traditions to ensure a smooth and enriching experience. Here are some key points to keep in mind:

  • Greetings: Greetings are essential in Cape Verdean culture. It's customary to greet people with a handshake, and in some cases, a hug or a kiss on the cheek, especially among friends and family.

  • Dress Code: While casual attire is generally acceptable, it's advisable to dress modestly, especially when visiting religious sites or attending cultural events. Revealing clothing should be avoided.

  • Religious Observances: Cape Verde is predominantly Christian, with a significant Catholic population. Respect religious practices and avoid disruptive behavior during religious ceremonies or events.

  • Local Festivals: Cape Verde celebrates various festivals throughout the year, such as the Carnival in February/March and the Santa Maria Festival in August. Participating in these events can provide a unique cultural experience, but be mindful of local customs and traditions.

  • Music and Dance: Music and dance are integral parts of Cape Verdean culture. Attending live music performances or participating in traditional dances can be an enriching experience, but be respectful of the performers and the cultural significance of these art forms.

  • Food and Drink: Cape Verdean cuisine is a blend of African, Portuguese, and Mediterranean influences. Be open to trying local dishes and beverages, but avoid wasting food, as it is considered disrespectful.

Remember, respecting the local culture and customs not only enhances your travel experience but also fosters a positive relationship between visitors and the local community.

Emergency Services

Emergency services in Cape Verde are generally reliable, but may have limitations in some areas. The availability and quality of services can vary depending on the location and the specific emergency situation.

  • Medical Emergencies: The larger cities and tourist areas have hospitals and clinics that can handle most medical emergencies. However, facilities in remote areas may be more basic, and serious cases may require evacuation to a major hospital or even overseas.

  • Police and Security: The police force in Cape Verde is generally capable of handling most security-related emergencies. However, response times can be slower in rural areas, and language barriers may exist for non-Portuguese speakers.

  • Fire and Rescue: Fire departments are present in major cities and tourist areas, but their resources and response times may be limited in remote regions.

  • Tourist Assistance: Some tourist-oriented services, such as consular assistance and travel insurance providers, can offer support and guidance in case of emergencies. However, their availability and response times may vary.

It's advisable for travelers to research and familiarize themselves with the emergency services available in their specific destination within Cape Verde, and to have contingency plans in place for potential emergencies.

Frequently Asked Questions

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Is Cape Verde safe for tourists?

Cape Verde is generally safe for tourists. However, petty crimes like pickpocketing and bag snatching can occur, so remain vigilant in crowded areas. Avoid walking alone at night and keep valuables secured. The islands are relatively stable, but check travel advisories for any potential unrest.

Is Cape Verde safe for solo female travelers?

Solo female travelers can feel relatively safe in Cape Verde, but should exercise caution as they would in any unfamiliar destination. Avoid isolated areas, especially at night, and dress modestly to avoid unwanted attention. It's advisable to stay in well-lit areas and arrange trusted transportation.

Is Cape Verde safe for families?

Cape Verde is a family-friendly destination with beautiful beaches and a relaxed atmosphere. However, be cautious with food and water to prevent illness, and ensure children are properly supervised at all times. Resorts often have kid-friendly amenities and activities.

Is Cape Verde LGBTQ+ friendly?

Same-sex relationships are legal in Cape Verde, but public displays of affection may draw unwanted attention. The LGBTQ+ community faces some societal discrimination, so discretion is advised. There are no legal protections against discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity.

Do you need a visa to go to Cape Verde?

Citizens of most Western countries, including the United States, Canada, and the European Union, do not need a visa for stays up to 90 days. However, a valid passport is required for entry into Cape Verde. It's always recommended to check the latest visa requirements with the nearest Cape Verdean embassy or consulate.

Can you drink tap water in Cape Verde?

It's not recommended to drink tap water in Cape Verde due to potential contamination. Stick to bottled or purified water, and avoid ice cubes made from tap water. This precaution also applies to brushing teeth and washing fruits and vegetables.

What is the currency in Cape Verde?

The official currency in Cape Verde is the Cape Verdean Escudo (CVE). However, the Euro is widely accepted, especially in tourist areas. Credit cards are accepted at most hotels, restaurants, and shops, but it's advisable to carry some cash for smaller purchases.

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